On Sunday, October 15th, the Central Experimental Farm joined 850 other sites across the country with its National Historic Site designation. These historic places reflect the diversity of cultures, geographical settings and time periods of Canada, symbolizing its national identity and human heritage. For residents of Ottawa who have known about the farm's unique qualities for decades, it is a welcome recognition of the need to preserve them.
It was a perfect fall morning for the ceremony that saw the Honourable Lyle Vanclief, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, unveil the plaques commemorating this rare example of a farm within a city. Established in 1886 as the heart of Canada's experimental farm system, its purposes were to unite scientific experimentation with practical verification and to share the resulting knowledge as widely as possible, especially to the still sparsely settled West. Scientific experimentation was carried forward on many fronts, but none exemplifies better the impact of the CEF than the hardy strains of wheat that have come from its ground: Marquis, Garnet and Renown made Canada one of the world's leading exporters of this commodity.
These historical associations are physically expressed in the carefully planned, picturesque composition of the CEF's grounds. The backbone of the CEF's design is its landscape plan, which separates the farm's activities into three clearly defined zones: the core area consisting of administration buildings, laboratories and model farm buildings; the arboretum and ornamental gardens; and, the experimental fields. By applying picturesque design principles, to both the building designs and the natural environments, these three zones are integrated into a seemingly effortless whole: long stretches of lawn and fields, gently rolling land, pleasing water vistas, a core of buildings attractively set among groups of mature trees and shrubbery, and winding paths that encourage the enjoyment of the outdoors by providing leisurely changes of experience.
Preserving these unique heritage values will be an ongoing challenge and one that will hopefully be made easier by the CEF's designation as a National Historic Site. The appointment of the CEF Advisory Council, established to ensure public input in the management of this heritage site in accordance with the principles contained in the Commemorative Integrity Statement, will further guard against the implementation of incompatible and commercially based development proposals that may arise.
The plaques are situated directly across the Driveway from the Main Dairy Barn. The next time you find yourself walking, jogging, cycling, tobogganing or driving past, take a moment to stop and read the commemoration that honours what most Carlington residents know to be one of Ottawa's most outstanding treasures.